Housing Authority Affordability: The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program

Posted: February 23rd, 2011 by Just Real Seattle

Even with the current downturn in the market, affordable housing in Seattle has long been a dream of median-income families and individuals. The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption, or MFTE, program has been helping do just that since 2004. This program waives property taxes for private developers for up to 12 years when at least 20% of the units are set-aside for those making 80% to 90% of median income. The goal is to encourage the creation of both rental and homeownership housing for moderate wage workers and mixed-income housing.
 
Paul Allen’s Vulcan is one of the companies that has taken advantage of this program, offering median-income units in their developments, Alley24 and Borealis. When Borealis was being developed in 2008, the Director of the City of Seattle Office of Housing noted that, “These types of workforce housing projects help provide homes for Seattle workers who may not qualify for the city’s subsidy programs but still have difficulty finding affordable, market-rate housing in the city.”
 
While detractors argue that the program offers special incentives to private developers, it still enjoys many proponents in local government. The MFTE program expired on December 31, 2010 and the Seattle City Council is currently reviewing the program for potential renewal. For more information or to voice your opinion on the MFTE program, contact your local Councilmember.

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